Writing tools to improve your content

Writing Tools to work smarter! Image is a signpost saying 'The Smart Way'As well as freelance writing for clients, I also write both fiction and non-fiction. That means I spend a lot of my time either writing, editing or proofreading.

Last year, I wrote just over 200,000 words, and I’m on track to well and truly beat that this year. I’m not saying that to boast, but to show you what’s possible.

I’m quite a slow writer compared to many authors I know, but the writing tools I use help me write more than I thought I could.

Here are my favourite tools and a couple of tips that help me get my writing finished:

Finish your writing!

The best piece of writing advice I ever heard was this:

“Your first draft doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be written.”

One of my biggest problems used to be spending far too much time going back and editing my previous writing, rather than getting on and writing something new. I still find myself doing that occasionally, but the tools that have helped me get over it are below:

  • In particular, I’ve got to credit the utterly wonderful Write or Die, where you set a word count to hit, and a timer, and just write. You can’t go back and edit because you don’t have enough time to do both. It’s absolutely brilliant for getting you out of your own way, and getting words on the page.
  • If I’m not using Write or Die, my other favourite is the Tomato Timer. I set the timer for 20 minutes, or however long I need and focus only on what I need to do for that amount of time. No checking emails, no Facebook, just concentrating until the timer goes off.
  • WordKeeperAlpha is what I use to keep track of all of my writing projects. You can add a project, put in a target word count and a deadline, and the software will tell you how many words you need to write per day, and if you’re on track to finish on time. It’s perfect for planning, but I also find it motivational, as I can watch my word count going up, and the amount of words left to write going down.

One other great piece of writing advice I got, which fits in perfectly with the first one, is “You can’t edit a blank page.” With the tools above to get the words out of your head and onto the page, now you’ve got something to edit.

Make your writing better

  • If grammar isn’t your strong point, install Grammarly and you won’t have to worry about it.
  • Check your writing with the Hemingway App and it’ll show you complicated sentences, passive voice, and more.
  • Stuck for an alternative word? Try the Power Thesaurus. It’s a crowdsourced thesaurus that’s been built by a community of writers, so you’ll find more than just the usual synonyms, here.
  • Finally, run your copy through the Readability Grader from Jellymetrics, to make sure your content is easy to read.

That’s it for now. I’ve more writing tools to help with all aspects of the writing process, so this will likely be a regular series.


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